Old and New
This week we say goodbye to a beloved principal, David Elliott, and also welcome our new interim principal, Amy Jessee. Though I am new to the QAE, I know David Elliott changed lives -- he founded this incredible school with a powerful vision. We are all here because of David. He created the environment where both students and teachers felt comfortable to learn and find community and happiness.
David's leave of absence and ultimate resignation hit us hard. All teachers, staff and parents have the same information about his departure, which is leaving many of us unsettled. Please know that I am here for you and that my main duty is to take care of your students and their well being and learning. David is a great man and principal--we could never replace him.
We are lucky to have our new interim principal, Amy Jessee. She is a kind, highly capable, and gracious visitor joining us from Coe. She understands the vision and mission that Mr. Elliott created to teach the whole child.
As a way to welcome Ms. Jessee to our school your students wrote welcoming cards to her. Inside each card, they wrote things they love and cherish about QAE in order to help Ms. Jessee feel more at home and get to know the loving community she is entering, if only for a short time.
Let me know if there's anything I can do for you, and I can't thank you enough for your support during this tumultuous time.
You may have noticed a letter in your student's orange folder on Friday or today. The letter is a note to inform you about Reflex math, one of our new math fact fluency programs we will use throughout the year.
As the letter mentions, Reflex math helps students practice their addition, subtraction, multiplication and division math facts through games and incentives, such as "buying" things (t-shirts, haircuts, etc) for their Reflex math avatar (NOT actually buying anything (: ). We will use Reflex Math 2 times per week in class. Each session lasts between 10-30 minutes depending on a student's proficiency of the math facts. In addition to the 2 sessions at school, I ask that students do one more at home. I anticipate students may even want to do more, however, one is all I ask!
We also started ST (Spatial-Temporal) Math this week. We will do ST Math as a whole class twice a week for 30 minutes (or three times per week for 20 minutes). ST Math states in order to get through the curriculum, students should complete 90 minutes per week, so I ask that students do one more 30-minute session at home.
Just a quick run down for new families or those who would like a refresher, ST Math is a "game-based learning system that features Jiji the penguin." Math language and symbols are removed and get introduced in a sequential order as students master the math concept. Though it is an individual activity, it is important to support students as they move through the problem solving process.
You can download the ST Math and Refelx apps onto mobile devices or access it online. For any other information about this, please email me. If you have any other questions, let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org). Also, check out the rabbit on Reflex Math. He's my favorite.
Enjoy just a few Jog-a-thon photos I took while running! I wasn't able to get everyone, but hopefully it captured some of the day.
The first few weeks of school we have discussed what our brains are doing when we learn and when we have emotions, especially strong ones. In reading and writing, we talked about how our brains work like marathon runners. You can’t (at least not most of us) run a marathon on the first try. You have to practice and build up stamina. Our brains work in the same way. In order to train our reading and writing brains, we have added one minute per day to our reader’s workshop and quiet, concentrated writing.
We also discussed the “Brain in the Hand” during classroom meeting as a way to communicate how we’re feeling. When a student is stressed or scared, we call it “flipping your lid.” We use hand motions to communicate how we’re feeling and if we’re ready to learn or need to calm down. If you want more information about the brain, ask your student to show you the Brain in the Hand, how many minutes we read for today, or our time-to- beat for quiet writing. Their brains are in training and they are building their stamina!
I also learned that there is some research out there that suggests the same part of the brain the receives pain gets activated when people learn new things (I learned this at the Positive Discipline training – actual source is unknown to me at the point). So, it’s actually a little painful to learn new things! How great is that? Now we know a possible reason why learning feels hard and why we can be tired (and maybe a little crabby?) after a full day of working hard.
I have attached the PowerPoint presentation from Curriculum Night and our weekly schedule (Sorry it's a blurry photo. I didn't have a Word copy). In the PowerPoint presentation you will find information on literacy, math, positive discipline, project-based learning, how to contact me and our classroom coordinators (Jody Stewart and Shinae Kim).
There were a couple questions from the evening that I would like to answer here. There were a few more (about handwriting) that I'm going to ask around and then report back.
1. Will we be able to use Reflex math at home?
The answer is yes! We will do two 10-30 minute sessions (depends on student) in class, and you will complete one at home. Log-ins and information to come soon.
2. Does the 20 minutes of reading include read aloud?
The answer I got back from the Laura Cooper, the reading specialist, is that students should try to do the 20 minutes independently. However, if it becomes a battle, just a couple minutes of them reading is ok, followed by parent/guardian read aloud. Feel free to set goals, like 2 minutes tonight, 3 minutes tomorrow!
3. When students start to take home Book Baggies, will the books be at an independent, instructional or interest level?
I will at the moment assign books that interest students, and as the year progresses, narrow book borrowing to more specific levels.
This week has been packed with new routines, writing, reading, math, and classroom meetings! In writing, we have started our unit on personal narratives, stretching out small moments into non-fiction or fictional stories. We've been talking about how master writers get ideas from everywhere, even ordinary things!
You may have noticed that your student brought home a Tiny Notebook, and if they haven't yet, not to worry, it'll be used all year. This notebook is for jotting down inspirational ideas during the day, night or weekend. I encourage students to take their notebook home every night and return it in the morning so that they can have it with them in order to write down their small moments and then have it with them at Writer's Workshop ready to write. If you would like to support them, ask your writer how to jot down notes in their notebook. Do they write the whole story or just a few key words?
This Friday was the first day of Buddy Reading. Every Friday, Mrs. Ward's kindergarten class will meet with our class. Students read to their buddies familiar stories, talking about the characters and helping their buddies practice reading. Enjoy some photos of the buddies!
One of the second grade teachers at QAE. Read this blog and stay up-to-date on classroom activities.
|Ms. Thibault's 2nd Grade||